“I’m only here for the girls.”
I’ll never forget reading this graffiti on my desk years ago. It was like some great poem; phrased with elegant simplicity and delivering a telling message about the human condition.
Our classes are filled with attractive, intelligent and — most importantly — available students. It’s one of the major perks of attending university. But from my personal experience, it’s actually quite difficult asking out classmates.
Think unsexy thoughts, think unsexy thoughts...
Trying to score a classmate is like entering one of those speed-dating nights. You have no more than five minutes before class — and two minutes after — when you can chat with your prospective lover. But unlike a speed-dating event, it wouldn’t be very acceptable to dive right into personal questions. Leaning over and asking your classmate “What are your hobbies?” or “What kind of music do you like?” might seem a little creepy and desperate.
Or maybe your classmate would love it if you showed such deep, spontaneous interest in them. Especially if you talked with that laid-back confidence I’m told is attractive. Of course, I wouldn’t know, having never been casual or confident around girls I’m attracted to.
But even if you are a pick-up artist, you’re not at some Keys to the VIP style party. You’re in an eerily-quiet classroom surrounded by (hopefully) sober intellectuals.
And it’s this academic setting that really kills my game. Actually, I had no game to begin with, but after hundreds of lectures, dreaming about many-a-schoolgirl, I’ve decided I’m not to blame for clamming up. Oh sure, I could grow a pair and experience five minutes of nervousness with the possible payoff of finding true love. But those five minutes would be pretty, pretty awkward.
Now unless you have a hyper-vigilant or neurotic personality, the following predicament may be lost on you.
We’ve all been in those tiny classrooms where everyone sits in silence. I know if I started hitting on a girl there, not only would the whole class eavesdrop, but they pretty much have to. They could busy themselves with cellphones and textbooks, but wouldn’t hearing the strained, awkward flirting of a 22-year-old man be far more amusing?
So let’s say I did flirt with a classmate and she flirted back. I still find it too uncomfortable knowing the whole class can spectate our little mating ritual. The class observed at the beginning of the term that we were strangers. So if I make a move to start reelin’ my classmate, the class then gets to watch the unfolding drama; they get to see if we get together or if she loses interest. Thus, flirting in class becomes like a soap opera performed for the viewing pleasure of your fellow classmates.
Yet another obstacle to getting with a classmate is deciphering their relationship status. Unlike someone you work with or know through a mutual friend, the classmate-crush retains a most mysterious relationship status. I suppose not having Facebook deprives me of yet another lead in this investigation.
So I’m left grasping at straws, sitting in class trying to spot clues that point to a girl’s availability. What does it mean if a girl comes to every single class with fancy hair and sexy outfits?
The politically-correct answer is to say these things simply reflect her fashion sense. But isn’t it also popular wisdom that people in relationships let their appearance go more than single folk? If you have two people, one getting steadily laid and the other left sexually-ungratified, who would be more eager to advertise their assets?
Now, before you brand me a Misogynist Pig, tell me one thing: would it be better if guys like me starting walking up to women we didn’t know and asking them, “Are you single?”
Because unless that’s cool, personal appearance is all we have to go on. That and body-language, but that’s no less cryptic than personal appearance when trying to figure out if someone is single.
But perhaps the biggest issue holding me back from asking out a classmate is what I call the Relativity-of-Attractiveness problem. The problem is as follows: the more boring an environment I’m in, the more desirable women appear to be. Have you ever dated someone from work, only to realize they’re quite vapid when not surrounded by the bland world of retail?
I sure have.
Similarly, when my brain is jumping between glancing at girls in class, and contemplating the words of some long-dead white guy, the girls are bound to seem extraordinarily fascinating. But it’s just the juxtaposition with long-dead white guys that makes a classmate appear so ravishing.
I’m told there is a similar concept discussed in How I Met Your Mother. The Mermaid Theory refers to the fact that coworkers start out undesirable, but appear steadily more attractive as you’re stuck working with them, until finally you can’t resist them.
The moral to both theories: places like classrooms are not balanced scales to weigh your romantic feelings on.
But for you tenacious students, all these obstacles can be overcome. You can break the ice with your classmate by saying something stupid like “Whew, that midterm was brutal, eh?” And as long as you have that slightly cocky, self-assured personality, you just might score the classmate.
Meanwhile, we awkward students will dream up petty reasons why we can’t ask out our classmates, hoping this pardons our own cowardice and insatiable standards. But maybe one day I’ll lose this defeatist philosophy and try that whole confidence shtick.
Photo: Florida International University/Flickr